Foundation: n. 1. that on which something is founded. 2. the basis or ground of anything. 3. the natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rests.
– The Macquarie Dictionary
Hands. Feet. Sometimes forearms, sometimes knees, or the crown of the head. But usually hands and feet. These are the foundations of any yoga pose, from which our bodies find their stability. Only from a stable foundation can a structure be solid.
In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says:
Sthira sukham asanam
TKV Desikachar translates this as: “Asana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation.”
Hands and feet serve as the foundations of a pose; they ground you in a physical sense. But they also ground you in a spiritual sense, when you are grounded you feel safe, mentally and emotionally stable.
For many, yoga provides a sense of stability, or groundedness, of coming home.
There’s a reason why calling someone “grounded” is a compliment.
Katie Manitsas from Jivamutki Yoga in Newtown says, “Jivamukti would say that the foundation to any aspect of yoga, whether its the physical asana practice or the spiritual discipline or ethics, is connection to the earth. Patanjali says the connection to the earth needs to be steady and joyful. We take that to mean literally – physically – the asana needs to be well connected to the earth so you don’t fall over but also the relation to the planet earth should be steady and joyful.”
Katie says that’s where Jivamukti’s environmentalism element comes in – it’s the foundational philosophy of Jivamukti Yoga.
“When we become comfortable in our own bodies and secure, confident then we become externally comfortable and confident but if we are filled with insecurities in our relationship to our body, or form, then we can’t have good and sustainable relationships outside of ourselves.”
Yoga has helped Christiane Steinward enormously with a sense of grounding.
She says: “I often teach about our connection with the earth. These things have been so beneficial to me personally. Energetically I think the [physical] yoga practices work on the lower chakras, balancing the energies there, which naturally makes us more effective in the world, then after some time we move into the energies of the higher chakras. People often start with the physical practices but are gradually enticed into the spiritual side by developing feelings of love, compassion, joy, peace which may lead to the person connecting to the divine.”
“That has been my experience – I started off by getting my life together in a practical sense then I have gradually gone more into the higher chakras towards more devotional practices. It is an ongoing journey for me and I keep working on the lower chakras through my practice.”
All photographs by Michelle Newton (c)